Why travel solo?
Eight and a half years ago, when I started Solo Traveler, I was asked this question all the time.
But we get it. All of us who travel solo understand why we choose to explore the world alone.
In response to those people who don't get it I wrote “Glad You're Not Here: The Solo Traveler's Manifesto.
That was a long time ago. And despite the huge growth in solo travel, despite a community on Facebook, the Solo Travel Society, with over 225,000 solo travelers who share information daily, and despite this site that has more than 100,000 readers monthly, I’m still asked the question in interviews: why travel solo?
As you might expect, I have a few thoughts on the subject. Let's go!
12 Reasons You Should Solo Travel
There are, of course, many reasons to travel solo. We all have our personal reasons for doing so. Here are some that solo travelers share in common.
- Carry ONLY your own baggage. We all have personal baggage. I'm not talking about what you pack for your trip, I'm talking about personal histories, scars and more. Traveling alone means that you are free of a companion's baggage (anxieties) and free to work on your own.
- Be uncomfortable and then get comfortable again. Stretching boundaries by traveling solo can be uncomfortable at first but give yourself a bit of time, hang in there, and your comfort zone will expand. As a result, in your life at home as well as traveling, you will be more comfortable in more situations.
- Only do what really interests you. Enjoy the luxury of doing what you want, when you want. Traveling solo you don't have to do things that don't' interest you and you don't have to suffer the stress of dragging your companion to things that are not of interest to them.
- Discover who you are when no one's looking. Without the presence of family and friends who expect you to act in a certain way, you can be yourself more than at any other time. Read: The Power of Solitude: Emily Dickinson Meets Reese Witherspoon
- Relax, you're on no one's schedule but your own. Get the rest you so greatly need or break loose from a meandering home life restricted by responsibilities and crank up your energy and your timetable. When you travel solo, it's up to you.
- Reflect. Solo travel is an opportunity for transformative travel. Being alone, you can let your mind wander and watch where it goes. You'll learn a lot about yourself doing so and be able to make and practice changes that you may bring home.
- Build self-confidence. As you negotiate and navigate every aspect of your trip you will discover just how capable you are. That inevitably results in great self-confidence.
- Roll with the situation however you want to roll it. Being resilient is a quality that helps us weather the challenges that life throws at us. As a solo traveler, you will have experienced a greater variety of situations and managed them on your own. That experience and the confidence gained as mentioned above, builds resilience.
- Develop a positive outlook. I have met people on my travels who have inspired a more positive outlook on life. Read Positive Thinking and Solo Travel.
- Enjoy the freedom. When asked what solo travel means to them, the members of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook used the word “freedom” more than any other.
- Reverse Aging. You can't actually turn back the clock but solo travelers are often seen as adventurous, exotic, and, as a consequence younger. It's that young outlook on the world that makes you seem younger.
- Grow. As you travel solo you learn more, experience more and become more interesting. Return to your family and friends an enriched person.
And remember, just because you're traveling solo for yourself doesn't mean you're being selfish. Read No Guilt Solo Travel: 6 Thoughts on Making Yourself a Priority.
Solo Travel and Personal Growth
Wonderful revelations can come from simple things. I was riding the somewhat complicated London tube once and suddenly realized that I had navigated the whole process myself with little difficulty and no anxiety. At that moment my confidence jumped a notch.
Gather up all such incidents, large and small, and you'll know why solo travel is so great.
It's not just about the trip. It's also about you.
To me, the big reason for traveling solo is all the wonderful small revelations that are made possible because I'm traveling alone – and how they affect my confidence, my self-image, and my life.
You've Heard the Why of Solo Travel. Now a Bit About the How.
Here are a few posts on the how of solo travel. Also, don't forget that if you want it all in one place, laid out in a logical fashion, you might want to pick up The Solo Traveler's Handbook. It's available on all online stores. Now the posts.
- 5 Steps to a Great Solo Travel Future
- Airport Security: Sail Through the Screening Process
- Manage Money. Avoid Fees. Keep Cards and Cash Safe.
- When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed: 43 Tips for Traveling Alone
- Travel Deeper: How to Connect with Locals
- Solo Travel: 42 Things I Now Know
- What to Do at Night When Traveling Alone – 7 Tips
Wondering About Travel Insurance?
- “I just couldn't leave my mother to travel when she got sick. Fortunately, my travel insurance reimbursed me for my flights which was all I had spent to date”
- “I lost my prescription glasses on a hike in the UK. When I got home I was surprised to learn that my travel insurance would pay out up to $300 for them.”
- “I was in Sydney, Australia when a crown popped off a tooth. I had it fixed by a local dentist and recovered the cost from my travel insurance.”
It takes just minutes to buy travel insurance. You could be thankful you did for the rest of your life. Here are two companies to check out.
You can read my full report on travel insurance here: Going Alone? Travel Insurance is a Must